By: Havn Life Wellness Expert, Heather Lillico
We live in a fast-paced world. I’m reminded of this every time I enter the Toronto transit system. No matter what time of day, everyone is charging ahead, barely taking time to notice their surroundings. Most people are interacting with the virtual world of their phones instead of the one right in front of them.
I’m guilty of this too…wanting to see how my recent social media post performed, or check the news to see what catastrophe I need to beware of now. I used to schedule every moment of my life, under the guise of living life to the fullest. I think my self-imposed busyness was actually a cover for not knowing how to relax, it was strangely easier to cope with stress than boredom. Boredom would mean having to tackle my emotions and examine life choices, a mountain that seemed too daunting to climb.
It’s kind of ironic that travelling Central America for the past six months finally got me to slow down and examine my habits. Now home for a rest I can reflect on lessons learned. On this trip I prioritized personal growth and happiness and here is my biggest takeaway: putting the phone down and taking a deep breath is the ultimate hack for slowing down and feeling happier.
When is this most effective?
During what I call the “in-betweens”. We often pull out our phones during waiting periods. Waiting for our food order to be ready, for a friend to meet us, or when commuting from one place to another. When we jump into the virtual phone world it keeps our brain occupied by worries and what-ifs and we miss an opportunity to appreciate what’s happening in the world around us.
What would happen if you honoured the natural pause of these time periods and truly slowed down? What if you took a few deep belly breaths, gazed around, and dropped into your senses, noticing what you see, smell, and hear. You might notice adorable children playing in the takeout food line, or hear birds chirping when sitting on a park bench awaiting your friend. Or perhaps you’d notice how good the sun feels on your face as you rush from point A to B.
How does engaging with the world in this way make you happier?
Putting your phone down, breathing slow, and tuning into the present moment is a mindfulness technique. When you do this you’re activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This side of your nervous system is responsible for feeling relaxed, calm, and happy. The more you practice this, the quicker you’re able to shift into this mode and stay in the emotion of gratitude, instead of stress.
So I’m going to give you a challenge. See if you can find peace in the in-between moments of life. Next time as you wait instead of reaching for a distraction can you sit, take a breath, and notice one new thing you hadn’t before – something to be grateful for. And see how that translates into your happiness. What I’ve noticed from travelling is it’s not the BIG moments that bring happiness, it’s the small moments, the in-between moments, the ones where you stop and smell the roses, that bring peace.